Starbucks Just Filed 2 Complaints Against Pro-Union Employees

Followers of the Starbucks unionization saga have probably grown used to seeing the name of the company tied with some reference to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). This time, however, it's different, as Starbucks is charging Workers United (an affiliate of the Service Employees International Union) with poor conduct.

The case submitted to the NLRB claims the union backers coerced workers with threatening statements and violence, as well as picketing and going on strike. The problem with the latter seems to be that Starbucks is alleging the aggression was directed toward customers. Yahoo Finance quotes the complaint that workers acted in such a way that "[could be reasonably understood as attempts] to physically intimidate and bully partners and customers in retaliation for their withholding support of Workers United."

Of course, Starbucks Workers United supplied their own story, saying that these claims were nothing more than the latest attempt to squash their unionization efforts. The barista group provided Yahoo Finance with a statement, reading in part: "Starbucks is getting desperate as it loses this war in battle after battle, because we — the Starbucks partners — continue to organize and fight for a real voice within the company."

Interestingly, one of the two Starbucks locations to receive the complaint was the Phoenix-based cafe that had previously accused the company of unfair labor practices. As The New York Times reported in mid-March, the NLRB stated Starbucks had illegally punished two workers at the Phoenix location who had been attempting to form a union at their store.

There are 100 open unfair labor complaints against Starbucks

For some, the fact that one of the two Starbucks cafes these complaints were levied against was recently the center of a nationally noted labor dispute could convince them that Workers United is right to see this as retaliation. It is also worth noting that, currently, there are 100 open cases for Unfair Labor Practices from across the United States in the NLRB's database. Regardless of if the complaints against Starbucks or the complaints against the pro-union group prove to be true, it appears the anti-union sentiment is hurting the coffee chain's bottom line.

On April 21, CNBC reported that since Howard Schultz returned to his CEO position on April 4, Starbucks' stocks have fallen by 12%. Part of the reason the outlet offers is the amount of money Starbucks has spent in its attempt to stop the unionization wave, which analysts feel is a risky move. Another part, according to Nick Kalm, a consultant who advises companies on how to deal with workers, is that Starbucks' progressive brand is becoming tarnished by the tactics with which it has fought against unionization. One Starbucks investor group even published a letter calling for a more neutral stance from the company toward unions.

Meanwhile, Yahoo Finance shared that Starbucks reasoned in a letter sent to staff that the point of the recent NLRB complaint is "to protect the physical safety and emotional wellbeing of our partners and to make it very clear that the behavior we're seeing from some union organizers is not acceptable and we won't tolerate it."